Written by Patricia Turnier, LL.M (Master's degree in Law)/LL.D (PhD in Law) Candidate in 2016   
Monday, 10 April 2023 00:11

This great book was published by Random House Canada. It should be translated into other languages such as French and Spanish. The author, Wes Hall, is a dragon investor for the popular Canadian show Dragon’s Den (two of the dragons are also part the hit American TV show Shark Tank starring Kevin O’Leary and Robert Herjavec). Hall is the executive chairman and founder of Kingsdale Advisors. He played crucial roles for multi-million and billion-dollar transactions by major companies like Air Canada, Citygroup, Petro Canada, etc.

This very moving and candid autobiography speaks for many people: immigrants, those who suffered from child abuse by a parent, those who overcame poverty thanks to education and a positive outlook of life in spite of hurdles. Hence, the author shares his personal and professional journey.

Since he had to live in many different places from the beginning of his life, it gave the author a great capacity for adaptation. This helped him to gain the ability to work with diverse types of personalities. It made him very resourceful. As a result, he was pretty much on his own since the age of 13 in Jamaica where he was born. Wes Hall is really resilient because not many people have made it in this world when they were on their own at such a young age (unfortunately right now, there are circa 140 millions orphans in the world). His confidence and self-assuredness took him very far. As Norman Peale wrote, one does not go through life with doubts and discouragement. Wes Hall understood this from a very young age.

Wes Hall felt loved and protected by his grandmother. She gave him the strength to go ahead in this life. In this fashion, his autobiography is dedicated to his late grandmother Jilia Vassell who gave him the inspiration to become an entrepreneur. It is moving to read about what his grandmother meant to him. Most grandmothers are the backbone of Black communities and dearly love their grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Wes’ grandmother taught him important life lessons that he will cherish forever.

Fascinatingly, readers learn how Hall negotiated his salaries and positions throughout his professional path. As a young adult, when he was on the job market in Canada, he worked in a prestigious law firm in Ontario. At his arrival, he studied the organization chart and his co-workers to find out who could be his allies, etc. Following his intuitions also helped him. He grasped very early on what it takes to make it in North America. He seized the official and unofficial rules, the codes of conduct, etc. Therefore, he accomplished the Canadian Dream while breaking many glass ceilings. He had the courage to move on when a job did not meet his expectations. He also understood that to get ahead, you need to go the extra mile for every task given to you. For Hall, no job was beneath him. This mindset definitely facilitated his success. Dr. MLK used to say: “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michael Angelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.” Thanks to his Christian faith, Wes Hall did not fall into despair, and it gave him fortitude. So, his belief in a higher power helped him in his life journey. His grandmother instilled this in him. In addition, one of the things that helped him during his youth is the fact that he had a great group of friends in Canada who supported one another.

Hall was not born into privilege. He came from humble beginnings. As mentioned, his life started in Jamaica, his native country. A great advantage that he had when he came to Canada is the fact that he grew up in the Caribbean, an environment where he was used to seeing people in positions of power as well as persons occupying various other types of jobs. This life experience allowed him to thrive in North America and shielded him from being psychologically affected at a very young age by systemic barriers.

Hall created a racial equity playbook available at blacknorth.ca. The author writes about this plan at the end of his book. He also founded the homeownership bridge program to give the opportunity for Afro-Canadians and other minorities to have easier access to real estate. In addition, as an entrepreneur with his company Wes Hall hires more than one thousand people. His business successes gave him the opportunity to do philanthropic works through the creation of his organization blacknorth.ca. Thus, readers will find the Blacknorth CEO pledge, a concrete proposal that promotes equality. In spite of his very busy schedule, Wes takes the time to share his knowledge by teaching Black entrepreneurship and leadership. In this manner, he makes sure that the road will be easier for others than it was for him. He has a collective vision.

As a conclusion, this memoir can serve as a GPS for people who wish to succeed professionally in Canada. This book is one of the best Canadian memoirs. It could be adapted into a fascinating movie. There are many great life lessons to get from the book. Interestingly in the autobiography, readers mainly discover how he navigated the professional world and how he overcame setbacks. He also penned about the realities of Afro-Canadian entrepreneurs. Captivated readers will notice his involvement in bettering their situations with politicians even if as a Jehovah Witness member he is not allowed to vote or to be politically active. Hall wants to be a concrete participant to combat systemic racism.

Hall’s boldness in his professional journey is impressive. Mr. Hall is a very strong and resilient man. He became a father and husband. Wes Hall has been married for over thirty years to the same woman and became the father of five children.

The memoir is available on amazon.ca, .co.uk, .com and https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/